Leaving Work Behind

My Mass Niche Site Project

Written by Tom Ewer on January 25, 2012. 62 Comments

GoalDuring my first couple of weeks out of employment (and in business), I have found myself occasionally referencing my short term progress against my monthly and quarterly goals. I have in fact set myself a reminder to check my monthly goals at the start of every week, to make sure that I am on track.

And as I said in my recent post, Let’s Make 2012 A Game Changer, flexibility is key when it comes to goals. Even though I only published my first set of goals 20 days ago (of which I was on holiday for 10), some have already become redundant or subject to change. That is to be expected from a new business finding its feet.

So with that in mind, how have January’s goals relating to niche sites been affected, and what progress have I made to date?

Any links to products on this page are not affiliate based – I do not get paid a commission if you buy any product that I recommend. If you would like to know why this is the case, check out my article: Why I Am NOT Trying To Make Money From This Blog.

Niche Site Mastery

As per my monthly goals for January, I did sign up to a niche site building course – Trent Dyrsmid’s Niche Site Mastery.

As you may be aware, I have some reservations regarding this product, as Trent barely makes any money from niche sites himself. In fact, I suspect (but cannot verify) that he is running at a considerable loss on his niche sites, as he is a huge advocate of using virtual assistants.

He made just $227 in December on AdSense sites, and I am sure that the setup costs of the sites were higher than the income produced to date. And before you mention asset value, the problem with arguing that the sites are all worth 20x their income is that the value is entirely theoretical until the sale completes.


I voiced my concerns on Trent’s December 2011 Income Report post in as neutral and non-accusatory manner as possible (because I am not in fact accusing Trent of anything). I asked Trent to reveal how much he spent on virtual assistants to build his sites. Unfortunately, he did not do so.

Furthermore, he asserted that I had “zero risk” as his product carries a 60 day money back guarantee. That would only be the case if his whole business model wasn’t based upon using virtual assistants – which it is. In pursuing his strategy, I am very much at risk of considerable financial loss.

Unfortunately, most of the people in the comments section of the post weren’t particularly receptive (which is unsurprising, given that it is his site), and my concerns weren’t really addressed. There was in fact only one chap called Mike who spotted that I wasn’t attempting to “undermine” Trent’s credibility (as Trent put it). I think everyone else thought I was just another troll.

Anyway. I have a lot of respect for Trent as a businessman, and my instinct tells me that he is an honest guy who wouldn’t put out a product unless it worked. He claims to have a system that can set you up for niche site success, and I am going to take a leap of faith in believing him. So I signed up to Niche Site Mastery. Only time will tell whether or not his techniques result in a healthy net income.

Just in case anyone is still in any doubt – I desperately hope that his course works. Not only would that be for my benefit, I also desperately want Trent to be who I think he is, and him producing a successful product would prove that to me. On the very limited basis that I have communicated with Trent, he seems like a great guy. I really don’t intend to start a war here.

Niche Site Building

Time to get back on track. The other niche site-related goal in January was to set up 5-10 sites. That is going to be a tough call, but I will give it my best shot.

Ray Gun

With laser accuracy, I hope.

My original plan was to build little 2 page sites. I felt I could handle that kind of workload in January (along with everything else that I am doing). However, I recently read this article over at Niche Pursuits which leads me to believe that a two page strategy may not be advisable.

So I have now switched to a 5 page strategy, which of course is more involved. And that is why I am not as sure as I was at the start of the month that launching 5-10 sites will be feasible! I am aiming for 5 sites this month – I doubt I will have time to build any more than that.

Progress To Date

I don’t really have anything to tell you at this stage regarding my progress. I have already set up one site in full, have one under development, and I also have another keyword picked and ready. All things being well, I hope to complete three niche sites this week, which leaves me with just one more to build on Monday and Tuesday of next week.

I built the first site myself entirely, and started doing the same with the second site. However, I quickly realized that I simply do not have the time to do the content creation myself (and in addition to that, it is pretty boring work).


This is me after writing six articles on a topic that doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

So I have turned to Text Broker (which comes recommended by both Trent Dyrsmid and Spencer Haws) for my content creation. At around $8 per article (which would take me around 20-30 minutes to write), it really is a no-brainer.

Link building will also be outsourced. I will be experimenting on different link building strategies across the sites, to see which ones are most effective (and most economical). I currently have two strategies in mind – one  is based upon this post, and the other is simple link building via BuildMyRank (or a comparable private blog network).

Without wanting to state the obvious too overtly, all of the above costs money. I am prepared to risk a proportion of my cash reserves in pursuing this project, but as with any business, I must keep tight control over my cash flow. Which leads me to…

Cash Flow

You may have seen my quarterly cash flow projection for my business that I revealed in this post. It shows me as being relatively comfortable up until April 1st, at the least. And in fact, due to positive advancements this month, my cash flow projection is now even healthier (all will be revealed in January’s income report). A healthy cash flow allows me to set aside some money for niche site building.

At this stage, I have made some provisional projections as to how my niche site project might offer a suitable return. There are two key factors to bear in mind when making an investment such as this:

  1. When will my gross income, week by week, start exceeding my expenses?
  2. When will I break even (i.e. when will my total amount invested be equalled by my total gross income)?

In an attempt to answer those questions, I put together this spreadsheet:

Niche Site Income Projection

As you can no doubt see, there are 4 factors that affect the accuracy of this spreadsheet:

  1. The number of sites produced per week
  2. The cost of building a site
  3. The amount of time it takes a site to start generating income
  4. The average income per site

At this stage, there is only so much I can do with regards to projecting income and making investment decisions off the back of my findings. I have control over the 1st factor, and I have partial control over the 2nd factor. However, I have no control over the 3rd and 4th factors, the numbers for which are largely based on guesswork.

I have set a rather arbitrary 13 week gap between a site’s inception and its first money-generating week. It took me around 90 days to hit top spot with my first niche site back in 2011, so I am roughly following that time period.

Fingers Crossed

Yeah…I am basically crossing my fingers and hoping for the best on that front.

The income per site, per week, is based on two reference-points. The first is this post, which I use to project my gross income per site. (like Spencer, I am extremely analytical guy – in case you hadn’t noticed!). The second is an average of the projected gross income across the 4 sites I have already built or am in the process of building.

Niche Site Income Projection

This is what my income projection per site looks like (the totals are monthly figures).

You’ll note from the above that I separate the 1st page of Google into three bands. In reality, estimating the organic SERP click-through rate is a crap shoot, so I believe that separating the CTRs into three bands is a sensible compromise.


So let’s assume for a minute that my estimates are accurate. If I build two sites a week, I will have to spend a net $3,720 (and wait until July) before I start making a weekly profit. Furthermore, I will have to wait until December before I break even on my investment. On the face of it, those figures are not pleasing, and at this stage, I am willing to invest a maximum of $1,500 on this endeavor.

If you focus on those facts alone, my plans do not look particularly promising. However, I am hoping for two possible game-changers to emerge:

  1. A higher average income per site than anticipated
  2. Early niche site sales fueling future investment

Either outcome would be extremely welcome, but I am really angling for the second one. As you can see from the income projection I showed earlier in the article, I will reach a net investment of $1,500 at the start of March. At that point, I will either need to sell one or more of my niche sites to continue funding the project, or reassess how much in startup funds I am willing to invest.

With the above in mind, I will go full steam ahead with my niche site building until March at the earliest, and hope that the additional data I gather over the next few weeks will provide me with the kind of information that can shape my long term plans. Only time will tell, and you guys will of course be the first to know!

Creative Commons photos courtesy of Fábio PinheiroLOLscientistÐ…oloCampanero Rumbero and kygp

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62 Responses to “My Mass Niche Site Project”

  1. Tory
    January 25, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    You could always supplement your income by starting your own niche site mastery course! Apparently there’s no barrier to entry! 😉

    Seriously though, I’m pulling for ya man! Good luck!

    • Tom Ewer
      January 25, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      Hey Tory; thanks for stopping by.

      Your facetiousness doesn’t go unappreciated 🙂 I’m not sure I’d ever produce a course like that – I’d be too tempted just to give my tactics away as and when I was experiencing success…

      It means a lot that you’re rooting for me – the feeling is mutual!



  2. Adam
    January 25, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Nice post, Tom. I too have some reservations about Trent’s legitimacy in running the course, and some of the validity of his claims (but haven’t been public about them).

    I agree that he thinks like a businessman and does do pretty well selling subscriptions to NSM, but I’m not convinced he’s exactly a “niche site master” himself.

    Hopefully you’ll find success with his course, though, and prove my assumptions wrong, so I look forward to following your efforts.

    I definitely think the authorities to really pay attention to are Spencer (free content on building an empire of niche sites), Pat (free content on building an authority niche site), and the AdSense Flippers (awesome free content all around).

    Have you considered purchasing a site from the AdSense Flippers yet? I bought one awhile back and wrote about it, if you’re interested in the process.

    While I don’t get any sales commission from driving people to them, I think most folks would benefit from buying one of their sites, analyzing the layout, content strategy, backlinks, etc. and then replicating it rather than plopping money down on a crappy ebook or on Trent’s course. But that’s just my two cents.

    Anyway, looking forward to seeing how it all plays out!

    • Tom Ewer
      January 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      Hi Adam,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave such thoughtful comments.

      To be honest, I have been taking the most direction from Spencer, in spite of the fact that his content is completely free. Not only does he provide an enormous amount of information, he is incredibly responsive to his readers. I emailed him just the other day and he was back in touch within a day or two.

      I am not interested in purchasing sites *yet*, but it is definitely something I would consider in the future. I’ll be sure to check out your blog and see how it went down for you. What kind of multiples do they sell them at?



    • Kent @ Make Extra Money Online
      January 26, 2012 at 11:19 am

      Tom and Adam,

      This is very detailed and impressive post and comment. I enjoyed reading this.

      I got NSM Baby Plan as I was learning how to do Outsourcing. Trent is a very cool business man and Sales and have very good success with NSM membership site income.

      I’d say this is all about business process and he makes it easy enough and reproducible. He sells the ideas to be your own boss really well.

      Check out his podcast and you will be amazed. 🙂

      Tom, personally, I wouldn’t spend $100 on each site building per NSM. I’m targeting to do $50 to start with and combining all ideas from Adsense Flipper, NSM, and Spencer information.

      I think I am pretty good in integrating ideas, testing, and fine-toning. I’m in process in designing my own process and how to create Adsense sites as a factory..

      I will document my process and income down in the road.. to inspire others this business model works. Meanwhile, I promote what I have to save time and automate.

      I have over-worked these days but hope to work 1-2 hours a day on this only in the near future.

      Wish you guys all the best. It’s nice to walk with you guys in this journey.

      One free tips, listen to their FREE podcasts and read their mind.. That’s the gold-mine. I’m learning and thinking as those successful ones. 🙂

      • Tom Ewer
        January 26, 2012 at 11:28 am

        Hey Kent,

        Thanks for dropping by – it’s good to have you along for the ride. If you could reveal how you only manage to spend $50 on a niche site, I would be very grateful! I’ve pared it down to:

        Domain: $10
        Content: $56 (7 articles @ $8 each)
        Backlinking: $30



        • Kent @ Make Extra Money Online
          January 26, 2012 at 11:54 am

          To start with small budget, you gonna test and weed out the winner site, right?

          I do:
          Domain: $10
          Content: $20 – 4 articles of $5 each from iWriter.com or Fiverr.com 500 words is enough
          Backlinking: $20 – 4 orders from Fiverr. I’m testing various gig and will document what works. The schedule is the key. 🙂 Order different one once a week.

          Tell you what.. The KEY is Keyword Research (I aim for low competition ones) and On-page SEO.

          I ranked one with 3 pieces of articles. It’s a number game from Spencer and Trent.

          The more you do, you will find some winners. I have a few and gonna focus and mass produce them in a few months.

          • Tom Ewer
            January 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm

            $5 an article…I’ll have to check that out! And as for backlinking – my budget for that is up the air at the moment. Like you say, it’s a case of testing methods and seeing what works.

            Thanks for sharing!

            • stevewyman
              January 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm

              Hi Guys

              $5 is easily achievable on Odesk Tom BUT the extra work involved may not be worth the cost savings. putting up jobs and managing the workers. I do this but produce a constant flow of articles so a writer works for me for a long time.

              I would use the services that spencer uses when testing your skill stes.

              Be very warry of doig anything with fiverr gigs with respect to backlnking to you money site. its not really a good idea in post panda land. If your hitting an anchor layer fair enough.

              one big problem is fiver gigs wont let you vary the anchor text much and youll end up at 80-90% exact match if your not carefull a bad thing.


            • stevewyman
              January 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm

              Hi tom

              Well done for calling out Trent.

              Ive done it publicly a few times. Ive also posted to his blog.

              My contention is he doesnot have the experience or expertise to teach others. He disagrees. You ll also find no negative comment on his threads as he deletes them.

              Even valid question disappear. A slick sales man.

              However i have no doubt that for a some new to IM the course has benefits as its structured. But the content is all based on Spencers and adsenseflippers work.

              So read there blogs to get he content for free.

              Im finding you blog excellent tom (followed you from Jo’s blog) A good read full of info.


            • dan
              January 30, 2012 at 12:01 am

              5$ for article of 600 words is very expensive in odesk,

              I am offering 2.5$ in odesk and there is tones of wirtes..

              Also I am using it in iwriter for 3$

              It’s not allways saying it’s lower quality of content, but we all know we are not after authorative sites.. so content for mini site can be good, it’s dont need to be the best..

              I have one question to you tom, if you are going to super low keywords as I read from your blog post at http://www.josepharchibald.com,

              Why do you need to spend 30$ on backlinks?
              Don’t you think it too much?


              • Tom Ewer
                January 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm

                Hi Dan,

                The value of an article is of course subjective. If you want something of a decent quality, I do believe that you will need to pay in the $5-10 range.

                With regards to backlinks – I am going to be doing a lot of experimenting to see how little I can get away with spending, so that number could well change. It’s just a preliminary estimate for now.



            • Simon
              February 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm

              I tried I writer a while back just to test it out. To be honest the level of quality was not really high enough to put as main content on a site (if we are heeding the gnarling teeth of the cudly Panda). At the very least it is likely to need considerable re-writng and re-formatting.

              I also have to admit I don’t quite get this mass niche site production idea. Be it 2 pages or 5, Isn’t this just the sort of thing that is very vulnerable to the whims of the new Google environment? I know there are people who still seem to do well with this model even in the post panda environment .But still….it doesn’t fill me with confidence. and I can see how larger, more stable sites don’t always require exponentially more work. Kind of ‘macro niche’ sites.

              My own approach is shaping up to be fewer niche sites with more articles, written to a high standard. I am aiming for 10 to 15 sites for now, using mainly amazon and adsense to monetize. My strategy comes from xfactor’s Adsense Authority course, Adsense 100k Blueprint and Jan Roos’s ‘proven income method’ (which is Amazon affiliate training). As far as I can tell these figures all regularly make their income from what they teach and have a very high level of experience.

              My own freelance income can fluctuate wildly -ie a job bringing in over £2000 for 5 days work came in this month- and there is no real way of totally predicting when that happens despite my best efforts!! So I have to to adopt a slightly more flexible approach to the building out of my niche sites:

              I work out a base cost for each site build and promotion. And then with with respective parts of it outsourced. ($8 doesn’t sound a lot but it adds up over all those articles) As and when the big freelance jobs come in I will scale up/down how much I outsource. When no big jobs then I just move forward slowly, grit my teeth and write the content. …after all I have more time available and I only have to do it for 15 sites- not forever!

              Good luck Tom, and I continue to follow your blog with great interest. Its already at the level that if you recommended something that happened to have you affiliate link in it I would not have a problem with that at all. It doesn’t mean i’d buy it but I certainly wouldn’t think badly of you.

              • Tom Ewer
                February 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm

                Hey Simon,

                Thanks for stopping by and sharing such a lot of useful information!

                I totally understand where you are coming from with regards to micro-niches. I certainly wouldn’t want to build up a big portfolio of micro-niche sites, and that is not my plan. I foresee maximizing the potential of sites and then selling them. If certain sites suit building out into “macro niche” sites as you put it, I will follow that tack.

                It is a fact of business that the real money is made in capital gains, not income. I’m not going to spend 10 minutes explaining why, but I’m guessing you already know, given that you seem pretty switched on. All things being well, I will make far more money from selling niche sites than holding them. It’s also a far less risky strategy than building up a huge niche site portfolio. Keep the money moving!



              • Simon
                February 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm

                OK, I see what you mean (must have glossed over that bit in your post!). And in that context its a good strategy. My own aims are somewhat different though – a relatively steady flow of residual income is whats important to me so I have more time available. If that steady flow of income is lower (and slower to come) than what I could make by repeatedly flipping sites then thats not a problem. Apart from anything – Learning to flip sites properly is also another whole skill set that I don’t want to get into right now. Not to say I won’t in the future though!

                So making these sites as stable as possible is the priority for me and hence the ‘macro niche’.

        • Tory
          January 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

          Are you hosting all of these sites on the same server? Just curious because I don’t see a hosting fee for each site.

          • Tom Ewer
            January 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm

            I’ve got 2 hosting accounts are about $5 per month each or something. I considered including a partial cost for SECockpit/Linklicious/Hosting etc but quickly realized that would get overly complicated. Easier just to bear that monthly cost in mind when looking at the figures.

  3. Adam
    January 25, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I think their “Buy Sites Now” page is down, but it might be worth even buying one of the smaller ones (there are some that sell for as low as $300, maybe even lower).

    I think the site currently prices each site at a 20x multiple, which might seem high. But here’s how I looked at it: all the work is done, so the income is instant (whereas with your own, you have to do all the research, writing, SEO — or pay someone to do it all), and that multiple isn’t based on any improvements (if CPCs rise, traffic rises, or you build it out further — it could be a bargain).

    Based on my experience (I dunno if it was the timing or what), I definitely exceeded the 30-day earnings the multiple was based off in month one. Hoping to build it out some further (though really not trying to put too much work into it, given a new direction I’m taking), so I think it’ll pay for itself much quicker than after 20 months.

    • Tom Ewer
      January 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      Hi Adam,

      Interesting to know…buying niche sites has always been at the back of my head. I guess I’ve always figured I’ll do it myself first and see how that goes. Going through the process myself should give you a much better idea of how everything comes together if and when I decide to buy a site or sites.

      Thanks again for giving us your thoughts.


  4. Jeffrey
    January 25, 2012 at 8:26 pm


    I’m not a niche site expert by any means, but I don’t really understand why your drawn to the Niche Site Mastery course. Is it because there’s not a better option out there at this price point? Based on your comments, I’d be wary of Trent. His reply to your neutral comment is to tell you to read testimonials? That’s weak.

    Anyways, I like your analysis of what your income and breakeven points might be. I’m interested to see if your calculations come close to what really happens (and if they don’t, I hope it’s to your financial benefit)

    • Tom Ewer
      January 25, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      There are two reasons really Jeff:

      1. It was $5 for a 7 day trial, with a money back guarantee
      2. I just have a good feeling about Trent’s ability, regardless of any issue you may have with what he has done

      In reality, what I learnt from Trent’s course probably amounts to 10-20% of what I do. The rest is either from Niche Pursuits (excellent resource) or from 8 months of experience!

      It certainly will be interesting to see how things go. I feel pretty confident about what I’m doing, so I’m pretty excited.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂


  5. Steve Rice
    January 25, 2012 at 9:41 pm


    This is exciting. I’m not very analytical, naturally, so it’s fascinating to be able to follow through your thought process on this project. I’ve thought about niche sites in passing, but don’t know that I have the discipline or drive to do it. I know they can be lucrative, but I have to focus my energies on efforts into which I can pour my passion and purpose. That’s just a difference in personality, I realize.

    The cool thing for me…and I know this comment is a complete aside from the actual topic of niche sites…is to realize that there are a myriad of different personalities. There is something for each one of use to do in this world–something which will fulfill our livelihood requirements and also fulfill our sense of purpose.

    So inspired by your careful analysis and drive. In your corner, my friend!

    • Tom Ewer
      January 25, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Hi Steve!

      I understand your reasoning, I really do. People are driven in different ways – that’s the beauty of the world we live in. One person’s idea of heaven is another’s idea of hell, and that’s how there is so much variety in life.

      Don’t worry about going off topic – I cover all sorts of things here! 🙂

      It means a lot to know that you’re in my corner – I genuinely appreciate that.



  6. Jason
    January 26, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Love the spreadsheet Tom. Looks like something I put together while I’m bored at work waiting for reports to run.

    AdsenseFlippers suggested iWriter in one of their podcast. I’ve only ordered one article, but it was pretty high quality and cheaper to boot. I may have been lucky and found a decent writer (or I’m easily impressed).

    I’m leaning toward creating about 5 pages for each site, then add more to the winners.

    I was a subscriber to BMR and liked it very much. However, I’m testing a different blog network now. Nice thing about BMR (other sites may do this) is you can sign up, hammer out a bunch of posts for the month or two and cancel once they’re posted. They keep your account around for up to 6 months (I think it’s 6). So, you can get on a “build sites for a month and then BMR next month” cycle, cancelling on you build months.

    • Kent @ Make Extra Money Online
      January 26, 2012 at 11:25 am

      Jason, I have pretty good experience with iWriter too. Once you lock down some good ones, you could direct hire them.

      I used BMR one month.. Just that I don’t write well. Outsourcing all article writing could be pricey like $1 each.

    • Tom Ewer
      January 26, 2012 at 11:32 am

      Hi Jason,

      Yeah – we’re both a bit spreadsheet obsessed, aren’t we? Can’t beat a good spreadsheet 🙂 and to be honest, they can be of huge worth. In my job, we used pretty simple spreadsheets to determine whether or not we should buy seven-figure properties. There’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple.

      Thanks for the tip regarding iWriter – do you have an URL for it? I couldn’t find the site with a Google search.

      Good tip regarding BMR. May I ask which network you are currently using? I have accounts with Linkvana and RankJumpers.



      • Adem
        January 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm

        http://www.iwriter.com is the address. I’ve used it for quick and easy content but sometimes have had articles which are obviously spun. Read the article and if it’s crap then you can reject it until you get one you like.

        The articles a cheap and okay for filler content but you can’t beat articles you have written yourselves. If I’m really stuck then I’ll get an article from iWriter but will always go over it and give it a proper tweak.

        • Tom Ewer
          January 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm

          Hi Adem,

          Thanks for that. Bit obvious really, wasn’t it 😉 I may give it a go, but am getting along very well with textbroker.com so far.



      • Jason
        January 27, 2012 at 3:24 am

        I’m currently using Traffic Kaboom instead of BMR. It’s a bit more expensive than BMR ($197 quarterly). I’m mixed about it right now. One advantage is that you can submit spun articles that link to any site. They did not give you the URL (though a couple quick google searches with a few combinations can find them). It’s been nice that I currently have 14 posts (about 1.5 posts per day) for one spun article that took about an hour to write. The maximum potential for the article I submitted is 104 posts. I’m thinking the best strategy is to load up a couple more articles have hopefully get up to 2-3 backlinks per day over the next three months. I do have the feeling through that I’ll be back to BMR (or ideally, I’ll be bringing in some revenue to justify the cost of both).

        • Tom Ewer
          January 27, 2012 at 11:12 am

          Hmm…sounds interesting – I can understand why you have mixed feelings though. One of the selling points of BMR is that their posts are of a fair quality because they do not allow spun content. Are you worried about Kaboom getting hit by Google for published loads of spun content?

  7. Amit
    January 26, 2012 at 10:58 am

    That is really great ..Thanks for the nice project

  8. Tom Ewer
    January 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    @stevewyman – couldn’t reply to your comment all the way up there so I’m down here instead! I totally agree with you about Fiverr and you make a valid point about outsourcing via oDesk.

    Glad you like the blog – it’s good to have you here! 🙂

  9. Matt Hagens
    January 27, 2012 at 4:56 am


    I gotta say, this is one of the best posts I have read recently on niche sites. Your blog is awesome, please keep up the great work.

    I recommend NSM for 1 month, then cancel it. I have learned a couple of really cool things from Trent like his dashboard approach to managing his sites and the text that he uses to outsource content. He also recommends SECockpit, which is the best KW tool out there IMO. I use it in combination with Spencer’s tool and have had great results.



    • Tom Ewer
      January 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your kind words – I really appreciate it 🙂

      SECockpit is a great piece of software, but it is infuriatingly riddled with bugs. Can be a real nightmare to use. I think it has great potential, but still has a long way to go.



      • Matt Hagens
        January 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm

        Really? You have found some bugs with SECockpit?

        I guess I’m not smart enough to recognize what is a bug and what is normal 🙂

        What did you notice that was wrong?

        It’s not cheap at $77/month so if there are major bugs/errors – I don’t want to continue to pay for it.

        • Tom Ewer
          January 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm

          They’re not major, and not bugs in a sense that they are showing wildly misleading numbers.

          Just things like screens not refreshing properly, plus the whole interface is pretty clunky and unintuitive.

          The software is able to work so fast because it caches huge swathes of information. So when you put in a request, it goes to the cache, rather than Google. That cache is updated every 30 days, so there is a chance that the figures can be different to current estimates when you see them. In reality, it shouldn’t make a major difference.

          I’m still brand new to it so still learning the ropes – so I wouldn’t want you to take my opinion as absolute!

          • Matt Hagens
            January 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm

            Ahh – so that’s why the results are sometimes different…..good to know.

            Like I said above, I usually use it in conjunction with Spencer’s tool just to double check everything. I also then manually look over all the numbers before I finally decide on a keyword. We all know that’s the most important part, so good to take your time and get it right!

  10. Michael
    January 27, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Hi Tom

    Great spreadsheet, my figures are comparable to yours, I’ve invested a significant amount with little return. I’ve also found that my earnings don’t match my projected earnings. My CPC is significantly lower this month then last, this my be due to more competitive ad prices or Adsense smart pricing, I’m not sure how to find out though.

    • Tom Ewer
      January 27, 2012 at 11:15 am

      Hi Michael,

      CPC variance is the biggest issue I foresee. There could be any number of factors – the market can shift, the competition can decrease…that’s why it is wise to be conservative with your projected CPC.

      One thing I will be doing when I start getting plenty of clicks is comparing the CPC I get against my projected CPC, and adjusting the multiplier in my projections accordingly.



  11. Steve@Affiliate Marketing Tips
    January 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm


    Nice breakdown of what you were doing.

    As you know I am playing around with niche sites a lot too. I am doing it slower and making my niche sites a little deeper.

    Of course, this means my volume is adding a new one every MONTH (or so). Not 4 a week.

    I think that is just a major difference in approaches to niche sites. Quantity vs depth

    (with depth you rank for a crapload of longtails hopefully…so your traffic should be signifcantly more per site)

    I have never tried the volume method… don’t know if I could with my history being built around authority sites, but I HAVE heard it works.

    OF course, like you, my concern would be future and current Google updates on thin sites.

    The best way to find out is to test, though….so I will be interested in hearing your results.

    Knowing you are a strait shooter and would call foul if it is all a load of crap.

    Also really interested to see you eventual thoughts on UAW/MyArticleNEtwork vs. BMR. As I mentioned before my personal experience (with just a UAW linkwheel) was that BMR blew it away.

    But I want to see your opinion. Maybe I didn’t use it properly or enough. I know I use BMR a TON now… so that could skew the results.


    Anyhow, it all sounds good. Looking forward to seeing some (hopefully positive) results from all of this.

    • Tom Ewer
      January 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm


      I’d love to hear more about your backlinking methods with BMR if you have time to Skype chat some time? Shoot me an email if that would work for you.

      I don’t anticipate having loads of “thin” sites in the long term – I like the idea of starting off with 5 article sites, expanding the ones that perform well, and selling off or dumping the ones that don’t.



  12. Joe
    January 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I’ve been a member at NSM for a while now. Should cancel it really as don’t use it much as watched and read what I needed when I signed up.

    I ‘launched’ 10 adsense sites but I think I did my keyword research incorrectly as I’ve not managed to get any of them to rank yet which is a shame as some have 10 pages while a few only have one.

    I no longer have SECockpit so can’t re-check the keywords to confirm they are too competitive but that’s my hunch judging on the results.

    I was going to use Trent’s new service where his VAs make the sites but it does not include keyword research which is my weakest point so don’t really want to launch any more sites for now as money is tight and would rather focus on my existing product niche sites which do bring in some money.

    Good luck with your sites!

    • Tom Ewer
      January 30, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Hey Joe,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us. It’s a shame that your first 10 sites haven’t performed. Perhaps persistence will offer better results in time!

      I wouldn’t go for Trent’s service. You’re basically skipping a vital part of the learning process by outsourcing it all. In business, you should always have at least a basic understanding of all your operations.



  13. Darren
    February 2, 2012 at 4:59 am

    Hey, great job Tom, I got on to the niche sites bandwagon about 3 months ago, due to Spencer as well. I now have 30 or so, with a couple more authority sites I am trying to build.

    Through alot of trial and error, I can now get a functioning site up in about 2 hours, and less then $50..

    Another idea for articles is PLR articles, and rewrite them..to suit your site. .

    best of luck…

    I will be checking back in…

  14. Wesley Banks
    February 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Tom, I’m curious how you’re going to determine if the techniques taught in Trent’s NSM are successful if you’ll be using link building techniques that are different than what the course recommends?

    • Tom Ewer
      February 5, 2012 at 10:24 am

      Hey Wesley,

      What do you think Trent’s strategy is? From memory, he recommended two in his NSM course – one a traditional link wheel with mass article submissions using UAW and anther service, and another with drip fed article submissions / Backlinks Genie to the money site. It now appears that he is advocating drip-fed article submissions via UAW and MAN, which is something I will be trying.



      • Wesley Banks
        February 6, 2012 at 5:08 am

        My understanding is similar to yours, that he recommends a 1 strategy involving a link wheel, using Web 2.0 properties and Article Directories as an inner layer and then shooting UAW and SocialAdr at them, while his new strategy involves the use of Simply PLR and MAN.

        From what you posted it seemed like you would be using 2 strategies: 1) dripping links with UAW and MAN to the money site and 2) dripping links via BMR. While they are similar strategies, they’re not the same.

        I was just curious if you would be following the exact methods (which I don’t know for certain what they are) that NSM teaches. Otherwise it would be difficult to truly state if NSM is worth it.

        (Note: correct me if I’m wrong on any of that, I may be)

        • Tom Ewer
          February 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm

          Hi Wesley,

          To be honest, it’s difficult to tell. It looks like he will now be using UAW and MAN for his most recent niche sites, so I am not convinced which strategy Trent would most recommend! I will likely be trying a variety of strategies over the coming weeks (including UAW and MAN), but I will almost definitely not be using link wheels. If Spencer Haws says they’re not necessary (which he does), I will take his lead. After all, they are very labor-intensive.



  15. Mike Long
    February 28, 2012 at 3:59 am

    Hi Tom,

    I the risk of sounding “salesman-y”, if you decide that this guy’s course isn’t for you, I’ll be teaching my entire passive niche site course through my blog over the coming months – totally free.

    Each Monday will be a new step-by-step post in the process. You can do it yourself or outsource. You don’t need endless numbers of tools. I use one keyword tool, a handful of WordPress plugins (many of which are free), and three backlinking tools. That’s it. And honestly, if someone was totally averse to spending money, all of the processes that the tools and plugins handle can be done for free.

    Oh, and when I finish the step-by-step on the blog, I’ll gather up all the material, edit and expand it further where necessary, and give it away in a free ebook (while leaving the original content on the website). I promise you the ebook will be better than anything else of its kind on the market – and it will be free. 🙂

    Niche site building doesn’t have to be complicated. Or difficult. Or expensive.

    The only downside, is with only one step-by-step post a week, it’s probably going to take me several months to cover everything.


    • Mike Long
      February 28, 2012 at 4:00 am

      Yikes…can you edit that typo for me at the very beginning? That what I get for commenting at the end of a long work day! 😉

    • Tom Ewer
      February 28, 2012 at 3:10 pm


      I’m going to be reading your stuff regardless of what else I’m looking at – don’t you worry about that! I never made it past the 7 day trial of Trent’s course, when I realized that the vast majority of it was rehashed content from Niche Pursuits and other free resources.

      And a note for future reference – you can’t be “salesman-y” if you’re not trying to sell anything 😉



  16. peter
    March 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I also agrre and like Trents methods, however, i do feel to much of a focus on the money making side was gathered from other sources that is resold by trent, which to me when i take it away, shows that the massive ninche network was produces very little compared to the rest of the incomes he has gathered. In my view, these extras eg selling packages to clients like VA’s + memebership should not be included in the report as none of these apply to the genral user that is aiming purly on adsene. If you gave up your job for this, yikes, i would be worried. I tried this out and have menue, but its better to bulid some main domain sites that you can focus your work and traffic building. Google nodoubt will take action on these soon + give less value IMO to simple 3-4 pager blog networks.

  17. Sheyi
    March 18, 2012 at 6:41 am


    nice write-up here as usual.

    I also have same regards as to Trent’s NSM. I quiet know from the beginning when he launched the course that some people will still complain but here is my view. Trent is a business man and as such, he puts his money into things (either he knows it or not) that will be helpful to the society.

    I don’t see any big deal in setting up a niche site. Get a good KW, hire guys on fiverr and it’s all set up. With an average of $50 per site you should be done and the returns will surely worth it.


  18. Christina
    March 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Hi Tom,

    I Started poking around your site after reading your guest blogpost on wpmu.org today and had to comment on this post. I too found Trent’s site at the beginning of the year and thought it might be a good resource to learn more about niche sites for Adsense, but there just seemed to be some things that were off.
    I’m starting to notice a lot of people are making money by selling a process to you to follow rather than by making money from the process themselves. MJ DeMarco talks about it in his millionaire fast lane book (not a fan of the book title, but really like some of the concepts he covers in the book).
    As far as niche sites go, I’m still working on them, but am following a different method of curating the content so I don’t have to become an expert on the topic or outsource articles and then try to figure out the best backlinking/seo strategy that won’t get struck down by Google 6 months down the road.
    Anyway, good luck with your projects and keep plugging away at them.

    • Tom Ewer
      March 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Hey Christina,

      Thanks for stopping by. I am also a fan of M J DeMarco’s book (although share your sentiments regarding its title!).


  19. bryan
    May 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    found your site through the guest post on Smart Passive Income, you site is now added to my regular list of sites i check. keep up the good work! also, im hoping my niche sites do good.. so far im in rank 6 on google. but not getting the traffic i want.. (only 5-10 UV a day)

  20. Trent Dyrsmid
    July 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm


    It seems that I and my course NSM, have been the topic of a great deal of discussion here; both positive and negative, so I thought I would chime in with a few thoughts.

    My micro-niche site portfolio peaked out at just under $900 a month prior to the release of Penguin. Up to that point the income was steadily rising as more of my site’s matured and hit the first page of Google. If you want proof, email me and I’ll send you a screenshot of my Adsense account.

    The cleaning site, which I bought, was earning $400/mo when I bought it, and thanks to my renovation of that site, earnings doubled to $800/month. I’m not sure why the haters don’t give me any credit for this site. I had to FIND it, I had to BUY it, and I had to FIX it. Isn’t that what any investor does?

    All tolled, that put my Adsense income at about $1,700 per month. How many people were making that much from niche sites prior to Penguin? I’d guess it was a small number, relative to the total number of people who were trying.

    Here’s another fact: 85% of my sites made it to page one of Google before Penguin.

    In addition to my niche sites, my blog blog, which is just a niche site in the ‘make money online’ niche, earns $4,000 to $5,000 a month in JUST affiliate commissions. Niche Site Mastery earnings are not included in that. I did not buy my blog. I built it from scratch.

    So, if you add up all my niche site earnings, it’s over $7,000 a month – a figure that I suspect most any new marketer would be quite happy with.

    Regarding the lessons within NSM, I do want to point out that what I teach (and continue to teach) in Niche Site Mastery is much more than just how to build an Adsense site. Many people don’t know how to get started. They don’t know how to install WordPress. They don’t know how to create all the different types of content. They don’t know how to outsource effectively. They don’t know how to build a mailing list. They don’t know how to research topics and find keywords.

    I teach all of these things within NSM. I also provided a lot of one on one coaching and received a lot of thank you’s from my members for doing so.

    Moreover, within NSM I have included many of the ideas and strategies that I have learned from others, so the knowledge that is there is merely my take on what is working for me as well as for others. If you study anyone who teaches, all of us pull from others because none of us has a monopoly on all the best ideas.

    For example, Pat Flynn got a lot of traction for his “back linking strategy that works”, which was just a strategy that he learned (as did I) from Joseph Archibald. I teach this strategy within NSM and made it abundantly clear where I learned it from. I also made adjustments to the strategy based upon other techniques I learned.

    How is this bad for my customer?

    In my opinion, NO MATTER what you do, there will be haters. That is just how some people are wired. They don’t want to succeed themselves (because it’s too much work); instead, the find pleasure in taking jabs at those of us who put ourselves out there.

    I have always believed deeply in my products, and I also believe that asking people to pay for them is just as good for THEM as it is for me. Why? Simply…because people don’t value what they get for free. If they did, everyone would be an Internet millionaire because EVERYTHING you need to succeed is ALREADY freely available online if you look hard enough.

    What I, and other product creators do, is create value by putting all the lessons in one place so that a student can go through them in a logical order, and, compared to the cost of college, what we sell is an unbelievable bargain, don’t you think? (how many grads are $40K or more in debt with no job, or a job that they hate?)

    By the way, anyone who ever asked for a refund was given one without question.

    If I’m to blame for getting flamed, I’d guess that it’s this: I probably made too big a deal of the fact that I built a sold a company for over a million dollars. The reason that I made that so well known was that I wanted people to know that I was a legitimate businessman BEFORE they ever spent any money on my products.

    I welcome any feedback you have,


    • Tom Ewer
      July 10, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      Hi Trent,

      Thank you leaving what is clearly a thoughtful and well-considered comment, although I suspect you may be rather late to the party, considering this post was published over six months ago and attracted just 26 page views in the past 28 days!

      I don’t want to re-tread over old ground, as I’ve already said everything I wanted to say on the matter. But I do want to make one thing clear – I have never been what I would consider a “hater”. All I have ever done (and I did this on your site too) was voice my opinion in a constructive manner.

      It may well be that you are not referring to me when using the word “hater”, but I don’t know. Glad to hear everything is going so well for you.



      • Trent Dyrsmid
        July 10, 2012 at 11:34 pm

        Hey Tom,

        No, I definitely wasn’t referring to you as a hater. That’s not my style.

        On another note, how is your blog traffic going? I’d be happy to help you out and have you publish a guest post on my blog if you like.


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